Each week, KultScene’s team gives you a taste of their favorite new Korean music of the past few days. The second week of August 2017 brought some new music from Gugudan’s subunit Gugudan 5959, the debut of Produce 101 group Wanna One, and a special anniversary celebration from former Girls’ Generation member Jessica Jung.
“Ice Chu” by Gugudan 5959 (Released Aug. 11)
Between this and their last single, “A Girl Like Me” Gugudan are proving that they can hold down chaotic tracks with relative ease, and they pack a huge amount of musical details into standardly structured songs. With “Ice Chu” the first (and hopefully not last) release from sub-unit Gugudan 5959, made up of maknaes (youngest members) Mina and Hyeyeon, the pair deliver a funky summery disco track. Brass takes the frontline for the gloriously fun chorus but as the song progresses more electronics are added to change the tone, notably at Mina’s second rap and the voguing breakdown in place of a bridge. The thing that really sets apart Gugudan is that they add personality to their music through their vocals, especially Mina whose raps here are just the right amount of sweet and cheeky. In what feels like a particularly crowded battlefield of new girl groups forming out of I.O.I’s corpse, none of the other groups can claim this yet.
After participating in the second season of competition show Produce 101,Wanna One finally made their debut this week. And while fans voted for “Energetic” to be their debut track, they also released a music video for the runner up “Burn It Up.” On this track, the boys showed a darker, sultrier vibe than the bubbly and, well, energetic from the debut track to match the hard-hitting EDM sound. “Burn It Up” is not particularly bringing anything new to the table, but as a Wannable (their fandom name), I was obviously sold on the choreography, the styling, and the waterworks on the music video. Although Wanna One has plenty amazing dancers, with “Burn It Up,” the rest of the guys showed their growth as performers, mainly Guanlin and Jaehwan. For me at least, this video shows that Wanna One isn’t just a group of popular members who got through solely based on looks or likeability. And even with a couple of more seasoned performers, the group looks cohesive and proved they can go up against any other boy group.
With Girls’ Generation’s long-awaited 10th anniversary comeback crowding the airwaves this past week, the release of Jessica’s third mini album has been shown markedly less attention. And that is truly a shame, because My Decade’s single “Summer Storm” is nothing short of a pop confection, as Jessica’s signature sound becomes ever more clear with each release. The song begins with the musical twinkle of a Disney movie: she hits notes lightly but with poise and precision, mixing Korean and English lyrics with greater ease than most K-pop artists can (fitting of the Korean-American singer). While verses carry a building sentimentality and nostalgia, they quickly, but effectively, move into an infectious chorus, characteristically uplifting despite lyrics centered around what seems to be a breakup. But the conspiracy theorist and Golden S<3NE that I am, I can’t help but question Jessica’s lyrical motivations. “Will we be able to go back?” she asks, calling herself a fool “tied up with the memories.” Is she talking to a lost love, or maybe her former groupmates? As tension builds during the bridge and resolves into the final chorus, Jessica makes it clear that she still has mixed feelings towards someone. And on her 10th anniversary, she unwinds that anxiety into a song that is unapologetically her own, adding further definition to her budding career as a singer-songwriter.
What was your favorite K-pop song released this week? Share your picks and thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.
https://i2.wp.com/kultscene.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/weekly-k-pop-faves_june-2017-1.png?fit=1024%2C7687681024KultScenehttp://kultscene.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/KULTSCENE-LOGO-2018-TRANSPARENT-RED.pngKultScene2017-08-13 20:51:422017-08-13 20:51:42Weekly K-pop faves: Aug. 7 - 13
From humble trainees on Produce 101 to chart-topping idols in their music video for “Very Very Very,” the eleven members of I.O.I saw their lives massively changed in the course of only one year. While the group has given strong performances, memorable variety appearances, and infectious songs, it is no secret that fans of the group are apprehensive about I.O.I’s scheduled January 31st disbandment. A few months ago, we analyzed I.O.I’s unique formation regarding how members are simultaneously part of two labels and, for some of them, two groups, something largely unheard of previously in the world of K-Pop.
But with the new year ahead, infinite possibilities remain for the eleven members of I.O.I, all of whom now have public recognition and newfound popularity to take with them to future activities and musical ventures. And although we have an idea of where many of the members are going post-disbandment, it’s worth discussing how these paths may benefit or hurt them. Let’s look at each member or groups of members, and make some predictions about their largely divided futures.
So what’s next for I.O.I’s 11 members?
Im Nayoung & Zhou Jieqiong (Pinky)
As Pledis Entertainment artists, the futures of these these two I.O.I members are largely intertwined. Alongside I.O.I, Nayoung and Pinky were more quietly part of Pledis Girlz, a pre-debut group headed by their company, alongside eight other trainees, many of whom also competed in Produce 101 early last year. And while groups like Gugudan and DIA were shrouded in controversy for continuing with I.O.I members, Pledis Girlz has only recently become official under the name PRISTIN. The group is yet to debut, and yet to regularly promote on television. As a result, PRISTIN has maintained the respect of the public and I.O.I fans, especially when Nayoung and Pinky partook in I.O.I’s promotions for “Whatta Man (Good Man)” even as other members were pulled out for individual promotions.
The new group has found public exposure from Produce 101 and various pre-debut performances and promotions. As a result, PRISTIN’s growing fanbase both within Korea and around the world line them up to be one of 2017’s more successful girl group debuts, especially since Nayoung and Pinky are the leader of I.O.I and one of its notable visual/vocalists, respectively. Not to mention, some other popular competitors from Produce 101 , including Eunwoo, Yebin, and Siyeon, are in the group alongside them. With a debut slated for soon after I.O.I’s disbandment, Nayoung and Pinky have a collective future that is certain and in sight. Within this framework, it seems that, among I.O.I’s eleven members, Nayoung and Pinky are most likely to succeed within another group following the official split later this month.
Kang Mina & Kim Sejeong
Two of the most talked-about members of I.O.I, Sejeong and Mina have a clear path laid out for them after January 31st. Last summer, their company Jellyfish Entertainment had them debut in the nine-member Gugudan, which coincided with the release of I.O.I’s “Whatta Man.”. And while the group did receive attention due to the Mina and Sejeong, alongside another popular Produce 101 trainee Kim Nayoung, the group failed to captivate the public’s attention due to what was largely seen as an awkward concept backed by lackluster music. As a possible rising girl group in 2017, the group does have potential to succeed, but it is also possible that they fade into irrelevance if the next release isn’t more appealing, especially given that they are one of many new large girl groups with innocent, feminine concepts. Sejeong and Mina will have to work especially hard to bring Gugudan some credibility in the oversaturated girl group market if they want continued musical relevance in a group structure.
That being said, their options aren’t as limited as those of their group members. While she will become a full-time Gugudan member once February begins, Sejeong particularly maintains widespread popularity, as one of I.O.I’s main vocals, the runner-up on Produce 101, and a regular cast member on variety shows. Her debut solo single, “Flower Way,” was also a success, demonstrating that her individual popularity will not be quickly forgotten even if she is part of a girl group that isn’t as successful. Sejeong can and will be a strong force in 2017, but it remains to be seen how Mina or Gugudan as a whole will fare later on this year.
Chaeyeon remains in a similar situation as that of Sejeong and Mina. Under MBK Entertainment, she is also part of a struggling girl group. While DIA has made some strides in finding public popularity this year with Chaeyeon and fellow member and Produce 101 competitor Huihyun (Cathy), the group’s current state is not very competitive in relation to the larger girl group market. Unless DIA can move their image away from their controversial CEO and agency, and bring out some title tracks with wide appeal, it’s likely that the group will have but another hard year in 2017.
But like Sejeong, Chaeyeon maintains considerable popularity. One of the most active I.O.I members, she maintained positions in both groups while also acting in a drama, making variety appearances, and doing pictorials throughout 2016. While she may not have an incredibly successful group to come back to, Chaeyeon will likely remain relevant in 2017 through her various activities as a singer and actress.
While also already a member of another group, Yeonjung may possibly find herself in a slightly different situation than that of her groupmates Sejeong, Mina, and Chaeyeon. A Starship Entertainment artist, Yeonjung is the thirteenth member of Cosmic Girls (WJSN), which debuted early last year but added Yeonjung during I.O.I’s subunit promotion cycle. WJSN has definitely yet to strike it big, but they arguably show more rising potential than do DIA and Gugudan.
As the group’s main vocal, Yeonjung has brought them forward considerably, but unlike her I.O.I groupmates, she is not the most popular member of WJSN. After seeing a huge surge in popularity last year, member Cheng Xiao currently carries the group in popularity. WJSN will likely move further and further into the public eye as time goes on. While their current track “I Wish” isn’t faring incredibly well on the charts, it’s doing much better than past tracks “Mo Mo Mo” and equally as well as “Secret,” demonstrating that this promotion cycle may be the precursor to a much more successful one in the coming months. For both Yeonjung and her group, there is definitely hope, and with her shining vocals, the chance for solo promotions definitely exist in the near or distant future.
Considering that Chungha is under no-name label M&H Entertainment, fans have worried about her future after I.O.I’s disbandment. But as I wrote in KultScene’s Artists to Watch 2017 list published earlier this month, Chungha shows a lot of potential for success. One of the higher ranking trainees on Produce 101, Chungha’s variety of talents made her an instant stand-out both before and during I.O.I’s promotions. And given that her company has announced that she will debut solo in 2017, what’s to say that she can’t continue to stand out in the future? With a good song and concept, Chungha will have no trouble utilizing her incredibly strong dance, remarkably stable vocals, charismatic image, and English-speaking skills in future performances. Chungha is undoubtedly one of the most versatile members to come out of I.O.I, and her trendy and international appeal makes incredibly hopeful about her future. All it will take is a company that really works for her, and I’m praying that M&H is exactly that this year.
Sohye’s future is largely undetermined, except for the vague answer of “acting.” Currently under her own management, she plans to spend her time training and debuting as an actress this year post-I.O.I. It is still not clear, however, whether she will remain under her one-woman S&P Entertainment or if she is still related in anyway to her previous agency, Redline Entertainment. And while she constantly receives hate for her untrained musical abilities, Sohye has found herself a cult following during her time under Produce 101 and as a member of I.O.I. Although she isn’t the strongest singer or dancer, it is possible that she is an incredibly talented actress, and while netizens and international viewers were quick to call her useless or untalented, her real charms may have yet to be seen. As a result, I hold out hope for Sohye as well — after all, she may not hit it big on music shows, but she may be instead destined for drama primetime slots sometime soon.
Somi’s situation is very curious. Unlike that of her groupmates, we know very little about her future, except that she has now been bumped up from trainee to artist under JYP Entertainment. Currently a huge trend in Korea and closely associated with labelmates TWICE, many predict that JYP will add Somi to TWICE as its 10th member, giving the already explosively successful group another huge asset. And while there is a chance that this happens, I think (and hope) that JYP is smart enough to go in a different direction with Somi.
At only fifteen years old, the I.O.I center doesn’t need to debut in a girl group immediately. She can continue with variety appearances, pictorials, and possibly solo music releases or acting stints before she debuts in JYP’s next girl group, which will probably debut in at least a year or two from now. As one of I.O.I’s most popular members and one of the bigger trends of girl group K-Pop in 2016, Somi holds the power to bring any future JYP girl group to immediate public spotlight. So while I don’t think Jeon Somi will disappear this year, I don’t think we’ll be seeing her “Like OOH AHH” anytime soon.
Kim Doyeon & Choi Yoojung
While there are few details, Doyeon and Yoojung are clearly destined to be members of Fantagio’s next girl group. The girls’ agency, however, has yet to make any major announcements about this girl group — we do not know the group’s name, how many members it will have, when it will debut, etc. But we do know that Doyeon and Yoojung have also been promoted to artists under the label, and their young age (both are only 17 years old) gives them some time before having to debut. It is likely that the group will debut probably earlier than later in 2017, and it’s even more likely that these two will bring a lot of attention to their debut.
Yoojung specifically has found immense popularity as a strong stage and variety personality, while Doyeon is also a trend for her visuals and versatile talents. As a result, there is nothing stopping these girls from being incredibly successful, making their future group’s success a strong possibility as well. Not to mention, the group may possibly have sisters Lee Chaeyeon and Chaeryoung of JYP Entertainment’s survival show SIXTEEN, as the rumor mill says that they have transferred to Fantagio to debut alongside Yoojung and Doyeon. Having four members with previous public exposure, the members of this group have little to worry about right now. We will likely see lots of Doyeon and Yoojung in 2017, working hard to ensure their new group’s success.
While the “Cherry Blossoms” will eventually “Fade” at the end of this month, it’s clear that the members have a lot going for them. Dividing now into what may possibly be six different girl groups (counting already debuted groups along with Pledis Girlz, Fantagio’s upcoming girl group, and JYP’s next girl group a couple years away) and an actress, the eleven members are truly embodying the group’s name “Ideal of Idol.” While the futures of each group vary in likelihood of sustained relevance, it is clear that each individual member of I.O.I doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. As fans, we are definitely downcast about the disbandment of such an amazing girl group, but we can find solace in the fact that our “Dream Girls” will remain active in the industry in coming years. And whether apart or together, I.O.I’s legacy will live on.
Who do you think will be Kpop’s rising star this year? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.
https://i2.wp.com/kultscene.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/ioi-disbandment.png?fit=1024%2C7697691024Kushal Devhttp://kultscene.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/KULTSCENE-LOGO-2018-TRANSPARENT-RED.pngKushal Dev2017-01-18 06:58:522017-01-18 06:58:52From 'Nation's Producers' to Actual Producers: The Many Futures of I.O.I's 11 Members
The last week in June was kind to us girl group lovers. A string of releases from old and new groups brought K-pop back to life after a slow month. They also brought with them a number of familiar sounds with two groups showing influences from recent times, and Brave Brothers doing what he does best with his favourite girls. The rookies also show us that if a company has a member in I.O.I or participated in “Produce 101” then expect them to debut very soon.
“This Place” by Subin
First is probably the most well-known of this group yet has had the least promotion for her music. Dal Shabet’s vocal goddess Subin released her first mini album “This Place” alongside a digital single of the same title. She previously dropped her debut single, the underrated “Flower,” in May of this year to little fanfare as well. Whatever Happy Face’s strategy is, it does not involve actually promoting Subin. Nevertheless, they are fitting her with music that sounds like it’s coming from every inch of her body.
The lyrics certainly do, anyway. They have an ephemeral beauty to them just like her voice, which tails off as she breathes out each syllable. “Swept away to the wind, The leaves that walk, Something sweeps away my spirit,” she slowly lulls us into the song. Subin croons alongside a crisp piano, reminiscent of Joe Hisaishi’s work on the films of Studio Ghibli. Each note is pronounced and reverberates beside Subin’s voice. It hits the ballad sweet spot of being simple but not boring, emotional but not maudlin.
Brave Girls’ new incarnation is proving to better than the original. They’ve been together for five years now and still have little to show for it. Under the tutelage of Brave Brothers though, we can count on them for quality pop tracks. “Deepened” from earlier in the year is one of the songs of the year and they stay on form with “High Heels.”
It’s a classic of his, using an object as a title and as a means of expressing a young girl’s love. Also present are the catchy chants and simple structure. Doubling down on the Brave Brothers formula of total functionality, “High Heels” has a two choruses. The first is almost identical to the verse but with bigger vocals (which mark it as a chorus alongside the mention of the title) and some guitar. Layered vocals bring this first chorus to a strong climax before the second one starts immediately with the chant of “high, high, high heel.” A mix of horns add the last bit of flair. It’s such an effective way of making a song constantly exciting. This is all added to by having the rap come straight after the first double chorus as well. Hyeran is fast becoming one of my favourite idol rappers. Her delivery is strong and confident, and has an odd nasally quality I really like.
“We” by Pledis Girlz
Pledis Entertainment’s girl groups are probably my favourite of the companies outside of the top two (SM and JYP, I don’t know a YG), given their groups are consistently innovative in sound and style. That‘s probably why their latest group, the ingeniously named Pledis Girlz, have got off to a disappointing start.
Their debut (if it even is a full debut given their name) “We” is another indicator of the GFriend reign. From the opening pianos, strings, and chimes, it’s clear the direction they were going in. This brand of schoolgirl pop is GFriend’s impact on the K-pop industry. None of these songs have been particularly bad, each one hits the mark in terms of the formula. It’s getting tired though, and with little to show in ways of upgrading, Pledis Girlz look like imitators. However, two things are quite satisfying. When the beat kicks and the strings really start to move, that feeling of joy pop music gives me is brought straight back. It sounds like the opening to a delightfully wholesome kids TV show. Also, the rap is something GFriend lack, and here it’s especially good thanks to the playful delivery and the music taking a back seat.
A problem for Pledis Girlz might be their rushed nature thanks to the desperation of companies trying to debut girls from Produce 101. Gugudan are another one of these, coming from Jellyfish Entertainment with Sejong and Mina being fully fledged members of I.O.I.
Gugudan take a similarly safe route as Pledis Girlz, but with a little bit more kick. “Wonderland’s” glossy electro pop is has an energy that eclipses the other rookies of the week. It mixes a cavalcade of sounds to create something that never stops moving forward. The guitar and bass rhythm section is a funky delight that is heard in and out between verses. The vocal rhythm of the chorus bounces along with it and the twinkles and blasts of synths. It has an unpredictable exuberance that carries it the whole way through.
“I Like U Too Much” by Sonamoo
TS Entertainment’s Sonamoo took on the much harder task of copying Red Velvet. After failing with their hip-hop concept at debut, Sonamoo switched to a chaotic style of pop for “Cushion.” Calling this a copy does a disservice to these girls, though.
“I Like U Too Much” opens with supreme harmonies of the chorus. It sets out where they can go from there on in as it moves into a sweeter verse that recalls Girls’ Generation more than their younger label mates. It has another double chorus with the first being an exciting bubblegum pop of synths and the second those aforementioned harmonies. Each part is more addictive than the last all leading up to a blistering bridge of more harmonies and duelling speed vocals. The lyrics perfectly match this unstoppable force by telling the story of a girl in a love that is out of control. “Oh Baby I want to bite you, Can’t leave you alone,” they shout at an unsuspecting boy. I feel the same way about this song.
Despite increased reliance on using sounds from groups who are still a big part of the environment, Korean girl groups are in a seriously good place right now. Even if they are imitating, the youthful joy is still palpable in every note they produce. Sonamoo especially look like they can grow to be an incredible group given continued support. Which should be easy since TS has seemingly completely forgotten about Secret. All of these girls have potential to do great things in the future.
What’s your favorite of these five songs? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.
https://i1.wp.com/kultscene.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Untitled-design-9.png?fit=800%2C800800800Joe Palmerhttp://kultscene.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/KULTSCENE-LOGO-2018-TRANSPARENT-RED.pngJoe Palmer2016-07-04 10:11:192016-07-04 10:11:19The Best K-Pop Girls of June